What is a Family?

I recently read this definition of family:
Function of a family
Ideally, a family has a function - that is, a job to do. A healthy family should create and sustain an environment which promotes emotional and physical health and psychological well-being for its members. To fulfill this function, families should know how to nurture, support, encourage, protect, teach, create boundaries and structure, and work together as a team.

I really like that definition of family from Tina Tessina's book, It Ends With You; Grow Up and Out of Dysfunction and hope to read the book soon.
No family is perfect, but the notion of family as team gives every family a worthy goal to reach for.  What makes a good team?  How do teams communicate effectively?  What is the purpose, goal or vision for your team (family)?
As I think about family, I believe the following points are essential:
Honest Communication:  For a family to understand each other well, the communication needs to be honest and open.  Secrets create illusions, speculation and miscommunication--it's best for everyone in a family to understand each other's individual goals, challenges and vision.  That sets the stage for supporting one another in manageable, helpful ways.

Let people know where you're at, what's important to you and where you are headed in life.  
Fun: Families need to make time to enjoy one another in events that interest the entire family.  Those events will be different for each family.  While one family may look forward to a holiday meal, others may choose a family hike, shared movie, travel or games.

Plan regular recreational events and celebrations with and for your family.
Respect and Space: Families need to respect each other, and give each other space to develop.  Good families don't have to share all events, beliefs or endeavors, but good families need to support each other's destinations with encouragement, interest and optimism.

Make the time to write a note, send a card, meet for lunch, and/or contribute to a family member's dream, goal or interest.
Care: Families need to make sure that essential needs are met for all family members especially the most vulnerable in a family: the children and elderly.  It's integral that family members step in and speak up when essential care and safety is compromised.

Speak up when neglect or harm occurs. In the future you will never regret speaking up, but you might regret staying silent when lives are compromised.
Acceptance and Tolerance: Good families need to accept and tolerate each other as long as the actions and efforts of family members do not contribute to harm or neglect.

Remember each individual has their own life, vision, direction and calling--they will "march to their drummer."  Take an interest in their journey, don't judge, and cheer them on.
Like any organization of people, there will always be work to do to create harmonious, positive family units that support one another, but with the collective vision of family as a team at the forefront, there is a good chance that families will mostly reach that goal.


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